Welcome back to Kelsey Browning one of Romance University’s co-founders! Today she’s going to tell us how to be an author AND lead a more balanced life! Go Kelsey!
This morning, I made a boo-boo. I checked email on my iPad before I even got out of bed. Bad Kelsey! And in my in-box was a reminder from the lovely Carrie Spencer saying something like “Uh…don’t you owe me a blog post for two days from now, Ms. Forgetful?”
Okay, so Carrie did NOT call me Ms. Forgetful. But she did remind me I’d made a commitment for a post. Normally, I send guest blog posts a week or two in advance. This one, however, had slipped off my radar.
Why? Hmm…possibly because my family just moved two and a half weeks ago, my husband’s car was hit the weekend we moved, I also had a crazy case of vertigo the same weekend and ended up sleeping on a couch at a reader event. Oh, and I had a book release in late October and will have another book release on Monday (Designed for Love, Texas Nights #4!). Did I mention my novella release in early December? Um…and then there’s Thanksgiving, both my guys’ birthdays and Christmas.
Almost all the authors I know are trying to find balance in our personal and professional careers. I know it’s an issue for me, so when Dan Blank from We Grow Media recently offered a course on building a sustainable (read that again. Sustainable, not insane) career as an author, I jumped at the chance. I think Dan is a smart guy and he’s just so cute that I want to pack him up and sit him on my bookshelf. With that being illegal and possibly creepy, I settled for the class.
Since the first book in my Texas Nights series was published in August 2013, I’ve released another four books, two in the same series and two (co-authored with Nancy Naigle) in The Granny Series. By the end of 2014, I’ll have released six books and one novella. I say this not to brag but to illustrate the speed at which publishing currently moves. Back in the “good old days,” it might’ve taken an author three to seven years to do that.
I know I can’t craft a twenty- or thirty-year career, remain sane, and spend time with my family if I don’t take a breather to assess what I’m doing and figure out if I’m spending my time on the right things and people.
So how can published (or pre-published, for that matter) author find balance?
- First, ditch the word find. That makes it seem as if we’re skipping through the grass hunting for an elusive easter egg with a hundred dollar bill stuffed inside. You don’t find balance. You create it.
- What you think of as balance may be bullshit. I would apologize for the profanity, but I’m not really sorry. That’s the way I talk. I recently read a post by Michael Hyatt that impacted the way I define the word balance. You can read the post for yourself, but what I pulled from it was what we’re calling balance is actually being at rest. He said balance doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t always feel calm. That sometimes it’s like being on a Ropes course where your legs are shaking, your arms are thrown wide, and you’re hanging on like hell to the person beside you.
- Get (painfully) clear on what matters to YOU. Not your critique partners, not your agent, not other authors who’re “making it big,” not your readers. You. This means you have to slow down for long enough to think. Why are you chasing bestsellerdom? Nothing wrong with it, but are you doing it because it’s important to you? Or because bestsellerdom someone else’s definition of authorly success? And yes, setting your priorities is hard. That’s why so few of us do it. But people, you write books. You already do the hard shit.
- Once you’ve given yourself a little tough love (and no, this is not a BDSM post), look at your commitments and make some hard choices. You will need to cut some. Maybe you can no longer be PTA president, room mom, chapter president, and queen of the entire universe. Or maybe you just need to say no to that weekly coffee date. You don’t have to quit everything and squirrel yourself away in your writing cave. But you do have to make choices.
- Don’t just consider your writing when you’re thinking of your goals. This became clear to me when I was doing some homework for Dan’s class. I had both professional and personal long-term goals. But the short-term stuff? They all supported my writing and publishing goals. How am I supposed to have a strong, loving relationship with my husband and son when NONE of my short-term goals include them? Driving Smarty Boy back and forth to school every day is fine (and we do get some quality time), but a fifteen-minute commute does not make a relationship.
I wish these five pieces of advice would be all you need to create a balanced writer life. They’re just a drop in the bucket. But I do hope they’ve made you realize balance doesn’t float down on you like snow in Buffalo. It’s something you have to work for. And if you think you can have everything you want? Well, it just ain’t so. But the great news is with a little thought, you can make time for the pursuits and people you love most.
What does balance mean to you? Do you think it’s attainable for authors?
And They All Lived Epiloguey Ever After by Anna Campbell
Bio: Kelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ love stories and co-authors Southern cozy mysteries. She’s also a co-founder of Romance University blog, one of Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, Bad Dog and Pharaoh, a (fingers crossed) future therapy dog.
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